When
· Naughties
· · 2006
· · · April
· · · · 13 (3 entries)

Evolution and the Net · My broth­er Rob in­ves­ti­gates whether or not there’s a con­vinc­ing anal­o­gy be­tween the progress of Dar­wini­an Evo­lu­tion (well, Goul­dian ac­tu­al­ly) and the Internet’s, uh, evo­lu­tion. I’m not 100% con­vinced, but I sure am glad I read it.
 
Canada on Rails · As I was pick­ing up my badge from the slinky black-cocktail-dress-wearing wom­en (huh?) at the reg­is­tra­tion desk, this guy came run­ning up say­ing “We’re sold out! Don’t sell any more!” And the con­fer­ence was packed, all right. Here­with notes on DHH’s keynote, the crowd, and BDD from Dave As­tel­s ...
 
The Long Form · I found that Orlowski’s long, in­co­her­ent anti-Wikipedia screed in the Guardian sent my think­ing in some un­ex­pect­ed di­rec­tion­s. Real­ly, it’s too much to ex­pect ra­tio­nal dis­course from a man whose first piece on the sub­ject (that I saw) re­joiced in the URL “khmer_rouge_in_daipers” (sic). Any­how, he as­sem­bles put-downs from the usu­al anti-Wikipedia sus­pect­s; there’s re­al­ly not much new. I will cred­it him for one ob­ser­va­tion that has re­cent­ly be­come ap­par­ent to me: the wear­ing thing about be­ing a ten­der of the Wikipedia flame isn’t the ma­li­cious po­lit­i­cal or racist cra­zies, it’s the con­stant back­ground noise of dumb low-level mi­nor ju­ve­nile van­dal­is­m. After the same-old same-old bash­fest is done, the ar­ti­cle dips in­to soph­more phi­los­o­phy, ar­gu­ing that the Net’s end­less flow of at­om­ized in­for­ma­tion some­how pre­vents us from in­ter­pret­ing or ac­quir­ing wis­dom. And, by the way, the kids these days are no good, what with re­ly­ing on Google in­stead of Real Book­s. Any­how, in among all this tilt­ing at wind­mills there is a (fair­ly well con­cealed) thing to think about, and it has to do with length. It doesn’t both­er me that much of the prose I read these days has an age mea­sured in hours, or is evanes­cent elec­tron­ic tex­t, or is pro­duced by prin­ci­pals rather than in­ter­me­di­aries. But here’s what I’m com­ing to think: in tex­t, short form tends to drive out long for­m. Our novelty-seeking chim­panzee minds would rather chew through a bunch of tasty lit­tle morsels than a full bal­anced meal. For ex­am­ple, when I was just about to turn in last night, I glanced at the New York­er mag­a­zine at the end of the so­fa, got start­ed read­ing Ge­orge Packer’s ex­cel­lent The Les­son of Tal Afar, and didn’t get to bed till way past 1AM. And I learned some things about the state of play in Iraq that no suc­ces­sion of blog posts is gonna teach me, be­cause the ma­te­ri­al re­al­ly needs a dozen or so pages of beautifully-typeset densely-argued dis­course. I’m not go­ing to try to sum­ma­rize Packer’s piece; but if you want to have a re­al­ly ed­u­cat­ed opin­ion about the way things are head­ing over there, you’ll read it. As for me, I’m mak­ing a con­scious ef­fort to do more of my read­ing in big chunks. But I’m not giv­ing up on blogs or the Wikipedi­a, and I re­main con­temp­tu­ous of Orlowski’s posse’s in­ef­fec­tu­al flail­ing at any­thing with that dan­ger­ous smell of the New and In­ter­est­ing.
 
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